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Equine welfare

Ensuring horses and ponies are looked after in an appropriate manner to ensure good equine welfare is paramount in all that we do. 

As someone involved in equestrian activities, it is your duty to understand the rules of your sport at both national and international level to protect equine welfare as well as abide by the law and follow the government’s code of practice.

UK Legislation

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (“the Act”) requires you to ensure that any horse or pony for which you are responsible, whether on a permanent or a temporary basis, has...

  • a suitable environment to live in
  • a healthy diet (including fresh clean water)
  • the ability to behave normally
  • appropriate company
  • protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Further guidance can be found here:

Defra Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids

Welsh Government Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses

The Scottish Government Code of Practice for the Welfare of Equidae


Equine Welfare in Sport and Recreation

One of British Equestrian’s Member Bodies, World Horse Welfare, works proactively with us and our Member Bodies in relation to welfare issues, as well as with the FEI. 

British Equestrian and our Member Bodies subscribe to the FEI Welfare Code...

FEI Code of Conduct for the Welfare of the Horse

Many Member Bodies also have specific requirements within their rules to ensure good animal welfare, which must be adhered to at all times.  In addition, a number of Member Bodies have specific details about equine welfare on their websites. 

British Dressage Equine Welfare

UK Polocrosse Welfare

British Horse Society Welfare

Pony Club Welfare

Sensory hairs

British Equestrian supports the FEI rule that a horse’s sensory hairs must not be clipped and/or shaven or in any other way removed, unless individual sensory hairs have been removed by a veterinarian to prevent pain or discomfort for the horse.  Areas of hair that must be clipped, shaven or removed to allow veterinary treatment are exempt from this rule.

For clarification, sensory hairs are defined by the FEI as those around the mouth, muzzle and eyes. While hairs in or around the ear are not classified as sensory, and no sanctions will be imposed by member bodies for clipping or trimming inside the ears, British Equestrian strongly advises against this practice on the grounds of welfare.